Losing Just a Few Excess Pounds May Bring Heart Benefits

It may not take much to improve your heart health and more.

elderly woman lifting weight

Medically reviewed in March 2022

Updated on March 17, 2022

If you’re carrying unwanted excess weight—and if trying to shed it all seems overwhelming—you may be surprised to learn that a little weight loss can go a long way.

A study found that losing as little as 5 percent of one's body weight could help reverse some of the unhealthy physical effects that obesity has on the heart muscle.

A change of heart
When you gain extra pounds, it can affect your heart size. The heart muscle gets thicker. And that's not good, because when the heart muscle gets too thick, it has a harder time pumping blood and relaxing between pumps. That could put you on the fast track to problems like heart failure.

But in a study of over 2,300 people published in 2015 in European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, imaging studies revealed that every 5 percent weight loss resulted in an over 1 percent improvement in the heart's structure and function. The researchers actually saw beneficial changes with even smaller amounts of weight loss.

Weight loss wonders
Researchers aren't exactly sure how losing weight helps transform the heart muscle, but the benefits weight loss brings to blood pressure, insulin resistance, and inflammatory protein levels likely play a role.

Article sources open article sources

Shah RV, Murthy VL, Abbasi SA, et al. Weight loss and progressive left ventricular remodelling: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2015;22(11):1408-1418.
Wilner B, Garg S, Ayers CR, et al. Dynamic Relation of Changes in Weight and Indices of Fat Distribution With Cardiac Structure and Function: The Dallas Heart Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(7):e005897. Published 2017 Jul 19.

More On

Where Are We in the Fight Against Heart Disease and Cancer?

video

Where Are We in the Fight Against Heart Disease and Cancer?
Heart disease, although the number one killer in the U.S., is on the decline. Cancer, on the other hand, is less understood. In this video, HealthMake...
Does Menopause Increase Your Heart Disease Risk?

article

Does Menopause Increase Your Heart Disease Risk?
When most women think about menopause, they think about pesky symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and the dreaded weight gain. But there’s another,...
6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease

slideshow

6 Unexpected Effects of Heart Disease
This common disease can hurt much more than your physical health.
What Are Natural Treatments for Heart Disease?

video

What Are Natural Treatments for Heart Disease?
Watch as Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist Dr. Peter Bongiorno suggests some natural treatments for heart disease.
What Is a Coronary Artery Calcium Scan?

video

What Is a Coronary Artery Calcium Scan?
A coronary artery calcium scan measures the amount of calcium buildup in the coronary arteries. In this video, Merle Myerson, MD, Director of Cardiova...